The Wadi Raba Culture

The Wadi Raba culture is known from some thirty-five archaeological assemblages from Israel,Jordan, and Lebanon and is described as "normative" following the description of the original discovery by Kaplan (1958). Stratigraphically, Wadi Raba occupations are later than the Yarmukian and earlier than the Chalcolithic Ghassulian. The paucity of radiometric dates for Wadi Raba makes it difficult to date precisely, but the 'normative' has been assigned a time span of about 500 C-14 years in the seventh millennium bp, and the larger culture, including variants, occupies much cf the seventh millennium bp. The 'normative' Wadi Raba has a limited geographical range of about 10,000 km2, but together with other contemporaneous variants extends this area considerably occupying the Mediterranean zones of the southern Levant (Gopher and Gophna 1993). Faunal assemblages from settlements in and near the Jezreel Valley show a dominance of domestic sheep and goats, followed by cattle and pigs (Davis, personal communication). Spindle whorls, loom weights, and other spinning and weaving equipment suggest the intensive use of animal hair, possibly goat hair since there is a high frequency of goat bones in one of the faunal assemblages collected and analyzed (Davis in press).

A prototype of a churn from the late Wadi Raba layer at Nahal Zehora I might indicate the preparation of milk products, in addition to the cereal cultivation attested by phytoliths (Rosen personal communication 1991) and recently discovered seeds. Research at late eighth and in seventh millennium bp settlements off the coastal plain has recently demonstrated the intensive use of olives (Galili and Sharvit 1994-5; Galili et al. 1989). Lithic assemblages are almost devoid of arrowheads with an abundant sickle blade and bifacial tool assemblage. Residential structures are rectangular, with some buildings being quite large and showing evidence of internal subdivi sion. Features include a variety cf pits, circular, paved or lined in stone, brick, or both. Circular basins and small irregularly shaped paved areas are sometimes found outside walls. As in the Yarmukian, the few adult burials are intramural. The first appearance of burials of fetuses,babies, and children in jar burials and cist graves is, however, the more conspicuous phenomenon here.

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